BREMERTON, Wash. - (Pumas release) The Kitsap Pumas and Sounders FC U23 are about as equal as two sides can be when facing off against each other. They showed that again Friday night with a 1-1 draw at Gordon Field. It’s the third consecutive match dating back to last season that the two have played and come away with a point apiece. Photos by www.facebook.com/HotShotsSportsPhotography.
Kitsap (4-0-4, 16 points) kept its unbeaten streak intact and increased its lead over the Victoria Highlanders to five points in the PDL Northwest Division. The result does put them at the top of the Ruffneck Cup table on goal difference, as they, the Sounders U23 and the Puget Sound Gunners FC are all tied with four points each.
“Its a fair result when you’re down a goal,” head coach Andrew Chapman said. “But it was unfortunate that we didn’t get the win on our home pitch. It would have put us in a very, very good spot in the division. But we still have plenty of games to play and we’re still in a good spot so it’s alright.”
The Sounders U23 scored in the ninth minute after some precise passing in the penalty box led to Christopher Wehan scoring off an assist by Jamael Cox. Wehan sent his shot past Pumas goalkeeper Matt Grosey into the left corner of the goal.
It was the first goal given up at home by the Pumas in 358 minutes of play at home and 307 minutes of overall play.
“I think we were trying to feel them out,” Chapman said. “They were high pressing us and our guys weren’t responding to that, and it took them getting slapped in the face to then realize ‘Hey, we’ve got to move the ball a little differently than we wanted to.'”
Kitsap had a few opportunities to level the score but got its best opportunity just before the end of the half and they capitalized, as Andrew Devlin perfectly timed his run to score his first goal of the season off a deep throw in by Cody Shelton.
“I was just running under it and luckily it fell perfect for me,” he said. “It didn’t even fall to the ground – I just caught it with the inside of my foot, kept a strong angle and put it in the back of the net.”
The Pumas made some changes at the half to give them more and better looks at goal and had several opportunities to get the go-ahead goal. Chuy Sanchez nearly curled one in to the top right corner in the 70th minute, but Kitsap’s best chance came in the 77th minute when Michael Chamberlain headed in a ball off a corner kick by Sanchez that looked like it would go in but Stephen Mohn – who was the first player the Pumas ever signed – cleared the ball off the line.
“We pushed as a unit further on up the pitch,” Devlin said of the changes the team made. “We pressed them at their back four and it made us go up and them drop. Where our back four had it (the ball) in the first half was around our 18 but where we had it in the second half was around the halfway line. So we started pressing up higher and it gave me and Cody the opportunity to get forward a lot more.”
The Sounders U23 had its moments too as Cox used his speed to chase a loose ball that was inches from going over the end line and fire a shot at Grosey by the near post that he had to parry away. Cox had another great opportunity a few minutes later when he fired a shot just inside the penalty box that got past a few defenders and nearly found its way in but Grosey was there to snag it.
Kitsap travels to Eugene, Oregon Saturday to play Lane United Sunday at 1 p.m. PT. They host the Washington Crossfire Saturday at 7 p.m. PT.
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